For many on the left, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has prompted worried speculation, especially in relation to reproductive health and rights. To understand what’s at stake in his potential rise to the court, though, we need look no further than the recent trends of the institution he’d be joining, which are in alignment with the Trump administration’s own priorities. The Supreme Court’s recent public sector union and crisis pregnancy center decisions, with President Trump’s appointee Justice Neil M. Gorsuch voting with the majority, will bolster the conservative assault on women’s health and economic security that has been underway for the past decade.
These recent developments will embolden conservative lawmakers to step up their attacks on both reproductive and labor rights, with detrimental impact on women and their families. Reproductive health and economic security — and, by extension, reproductive rights and labor rights — are becoming increasingly inextricable in Trump’s America. The GOP-coordinated attacks on both issues exact a devastating toll on women, with women of color paying a disproportionately steep price.
Economic inequality in the United States is greater today than at any time since the Great Depression, and that inequality is deeply racialized and gendered. White women remain trapped in a wage gap where they are paid 82 percent of what their white male counterparts are paid, with black and Hispanic women being paid 65 and 58 percent, respectively. Disparities persist even in occupations that are dominated by women, and more than eight times as many women as men work in jobs that pay poverty-level wages. Many of these jobs do not offer benefits such as paid sick leave, paid family leave or employer-based health insurance, and the race and gender wealth gap leaves women without the resources to pay for benefits not provided by their employers or the safety net. The economic insecurity that results is a pathway for a host of negative health outcomes for women and their children. One stark example: For women of color, the toxic mix of racism and economic inequality drives maternal mortality and morbidity rates that are three to four times those of white women.